The Way to Eternal Life, in a Nutshell

One of the major points in the Christian faith is that the human soul is eternal, that is, it lives forever. And every soul will spend eternity in one of two places: Heaven, the place where God Himself resides and where all is bliss, or Hell, the place of everlasting torment prepared for the Devil and his fallen angels.

How then, can a person be sure which way he or she is headed after death? In the Gospel of John, chapter three, the account is given of a Jewish ruler named Nicodemus, who approached Jesus Christ at night to ask him about this. Let’s pick up the story at verse 1:

(1) There was a man of the Pharisees, named Nicodemus, a ruler of the Jews:

(2) The same came to Jesus by night, and said unto him, Rabbi, we know that thou art a teacher come from God: for no man can do these miracles that thou doest, except God be with him.

(3) Jesus answered and said unto him, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.

(4) Nicodemus saith unto him, How can a man be born when he is old? Can he enter the second time into his mother’s womb, and be born?

(5) Jesus answered, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God.

(6) That which is born of the flesh is flesh; and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit.

(7) Marvel not that I said unto thee, Ye must be born again.

(8) The wind bloweth where it listeth, and thou hearest the sound thereof, but canst not tell whence it cometh, and whither it goeth: so is every one that is born of the Spirit…

(16) …For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.

(17) For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved.

John 3:1–8, 16–17 (KJV)

Many people are often confused by the words in verses 5 and 6. What does it mean to “be born of water and of the Spirit”? And what about the “flesh” and the “Spirit” in verse 6?

I was often told that the water birth referred to in verse 5 was either physical birth (water being the amniotic fluid in the mother’s womb) OR baptism, but neither explanation makes much sense.

Regarding physical birth: all of us have experienced that already, or else we wouldn’t be here! Why would Jesus set forth physical birth as a prerequisite for salvation?

Regarding baptism: it simply doesn’t fall into the context of the passage, and it is not mentioned until verse 22, in a separate account.

The passage below explains the water birth quite well:

(4) But when the kindness and love of God our Savior appeared,

(5) he saved us, not because of righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy. He saved us through the washing of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit,

(6) whom he poured out on us generously through Jesus Christ our Savior,

Titus 3:4–6 (NIV)

Look at the last part of verse 5. “…the washing of rebirth” (there’s the water) “and renewal by the Holy Spirit,” (there’s the Spirit). When a person is saved, Jesus washes that soul with His blood, and the Holy Spirit renews the soul. That is, the soul is first cleansed, and then BORN AGAIN!

OK, you may say, so what must I do to be saved?

  1. Admit that you are a sinner. It has been said that you cannot be saved unless you are lost. “For the Son of man (referring to Jesus) is come to save that which was lost” (Matthew 18:11). Every one of us is a sinner: “As it is written, There is none righteous, no, not one” (Romans 3:10). And, “For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23). I am quoting a lot from the book of Romans, because the Apostle Paul wrote it to illustrate the very things that I am relating to you here.

    Sinners without Jesus Christ are lost and worthy of eternal punishment. “For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord” (Romans 6:23).

  2. You cannot save yourself. “For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast” (Ephesians 2:8-9).

  3. Believe that Jesus Christ died and rose again for your sins. “But God commendeth (demonstrates) his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us” (Romans 5:8).

  4. Confess your sins to Jesus Christ, and call upon Him to save you. “…if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved. For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation. For the scripture saith, Whosoever believeth on him shall not be ashamed… For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved” (Romans 10:9–11, 13).

So, here’s the scoop: If you need a Savior today, just call on Him. That means to pray to Jesus. Admit your guilt as a sinner before Him, and ask Him to cleanse (or wash) your sins away and save your soul. I won’t provide a written prayer here, because people may get the idea that they can say those words and be saved. The prayer has to come from the heart, or it isn’t real. It doesn’t have to be a fancy prayer, only a sincere one. Then, Jesus will do exactly as He has promised. Indeed, He already died and rose again for you!

I realize that this is “The Way to Eternal Life, in a Nutshell.” So I haven’t gone into great detail on this page. If you have any question or uncertainty about what you have just read and would like clarification, by all means please contact me at the email address given on our Home page.

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